Christine's Reviews > East of Eden

East of Eden by John Steinbeck
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's review
Dec 03, 2009

it was amazing
Read in December, 2009

The book was like crack. Except I hated a lot of it while I was reading it. And it made me tear up.

What nobody seems to write about on the internet much regarding this book: I'm told by a reliable source that the "characters" are based on real people. Not Steinbeck's grandfather, either. Steinbeck just used his grandfather's name (Sam Hamilton) on a character that is modelled after another real person (not his grandfather) who lived in Salinas. The Trasks are also modelled on a real family in Salinas, but understandably the family descendants want to distance themselves from the book. John Steinbeck was a persona non grata in Salinas for awhile since he published a book where most of Salinas could easily figure out within a couple minutes of reading it, WHO he was actually writing about (and unfortunately, maybe whose dirty laundry he was airing). But I have to believe there's a lot of literary license taken (I cannot believe the Cathy character was as dramatically evil in real life as she was in the book) and he changed the boys' names so they would be similar to Cain and Abel (obviously). But the name "Trask" is not a very good disguise of the real family's name (Why did he do that???).

So if you go down to the Steinbeck museum in Salinas, see if you can find a knowledgeable docent who will tell you who the REAL Trasks were.

But if you ask them to show you a picture of the real Cathy from Salinas so you can find out how pretty she was, they won't.

I liked the Chinese cook character. I wonder if he was real, and if he really did all that research, and if he spoke like that. (He used the word "ptomaine", which I found unusual.)

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